O’Neill, T., & Wilkinson, K. M. (2020). Preliminary investigation of the perspectives of parents of children with cerebral palsy on the supports, challenges, and realities of integrating augmentative and alternative communication into everyday life. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, Early Online.
Purpose: To ensure long-term adoption and use of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) technologies, they must be designed to support children to participate within everyday activities and routines that are prioritized by families. The aim of this study was to gain parent perspectives on how AAC technologies were integrated into everyday life.
Method: Nine parents of children with cerebral palsy who used AAC technologies participated in semistructured interviews to provide their perspectives on how AAC technologies were integrated into the functional contexts of everyday life.
Results: Five major themes emerged from the discussions: (a) integrating AAC into life, (b) AAC technologies, (c) child needs and skills, (d) parent responsibilities and priorities, and (e) AAC process and decision making. Children were able to use AAC technologies within a variety of everyday contexts with various partners; however, challenges included access to technologies within care routines and outdoor activities as well as partners who lacked knowledge regarding operational competencies and effective interaction strategies. To integrate AAC technologies into life, parents prioritized technology features including ease of programming, improved physical design, features to enhance efficiency and ease of access, and availability of multiple functions and features (e.g., games and leisure activities, environmental controls).
Conclusion: AAC manufacturers and mainstream technology developers should work to ensure that technologies are responsive to the supports, limitations, and ideal features identified by parents. Future research should seek input from a larger group of stakeholders and use longitudinal methods to examine perceptions of AAC technologies over time.
Additional information on this study can be found here.